Labour's ruling body gives in to MPs' demands for data on anti-semitism fight

Posted On: 
9th February 2019

Labour bosses have given in to demands by their MPs to publish data on what they are doing to combat anti-semitism by party members.

Labour has been dogged by anti-semitism controversies in recent years.
Credit: 
PA Images

In what appeared to be a major climbdown, the party's ruling National Executive Committee agreed to publish in full the data it holds on efforts to tackle anti-Jewish racism.

The move follows a stormy meeting last week of the Parliamentary Labour Party, which unanimously passed a motion giving party bosses a week to set out what they are doing to deal with the problem.

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson demands suspension of Luciana Berger's constituency party

John McDonnell sparks fresh Labour row after telling Luciana Berger to make peace with her critics

Jeremy Corbyn defends ally Chris Williamson against anti-semitism claims

MPs feared Labour general secretary Jennie Formby would snub the demand after she told the meeting: "I don’t answer to the PLP, I answer to the NEC."

But it has now been confirmed that the NEC has decided to hand over details of how many anti-semitism complaints against party members have been received, how many remain outstanding and how often senior officials have used their discretion to dismiss them.

The PLP motion also asked to know how many party staff are dealing with complaints and how much has been spent on lawyers on behalf of the NEC pursuing disciplinary cases against members.

A Labour Party source said: "Before the last PLP meeting, Jennie offered to share disciplinary data with the PLP's representatives on the NEC and regularly report back to the PLP.

"Following the decision at the PLP meeting, Jennie then asked the NEC for their permission to publish data and pushed hard to get their agreement."

Jewish Labour MP Ruth Smeeth, who seconded the PLP motion, told PoliticsHome: "This is a welcome development and I hope the party will now be fully transparent.

"It is so incredibly disappointing that the PLP had to pass a motion to get any real updates on how we’re tackling this evil in our ranks, despite regular private requests. And I’ll keep pushing until I’m fully confident that we have the right processes in place and that antisemitism is eradicated from the Labour party, at every level."

The decision comes at the end of a torrid week for Labour, in which Jewish MP Luciana Berger faced two motions of no-confidence in her from members of her Labour Wavertree constituency.

That sparked a furious backlash from Labour MPs, leading to the motions being withdrawn and deputy leader Tom Watson writing to Ms Formby demanding the constituency party be suspended.